The Great Disruption: Is Children’s TV Going OTT? – Report

Posted on: Friday 03 July 2015 8:38am by Danny Stack


  • The transition from linear TV into OTT viewing may be longer than we anticipate.
  • But the market is ready for OTT disruption: in the short term there’s more money/opportunity available.
  • With much wider viewing choice than ever before, there’s still a great value in a channel brand (which audience will rely on).


If you thought OTT meant over-the-top content in terms of increasingly daring or outrageous kids’ telly, you would be wrong. Over-the-top in this digital age means the delivery and consumption of content without the control or distribution of that content (online platforms Vs linear TV essentially). In this panel, Jon Watts (MD, MTM) led four leading experts on the issue to get the skinny on what we need to know. There was John Conlon from VIMN UK, Rebecca Frankel from Little Dot Studios, Jean-Philippe Randisi from Zodiak Kids and Marie Steinthaler from Hopster.

“You can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf.”

Viewing behaviour has changed, and is still changing. As the number of kids (currently 70%) with access to a tablet increases, it has created opportunities for new platforms and new partners to deliver OTT content without the need for traditional route-to-market. The panel agree that this so-called ‘disruption’ is a negative connotation. The disruption is good! It’s good for creators, and it’s good for parents and kids. It makes consumers more demanding about what they watch and how they watch it.

The decline of linear TV is somewhat maligned. Linear is still a huge and important chunk; content is just watched in various different ways. There’s a bigger shift to mobile devices. Marie from Hopster mentioned ‘The Innovator’s Dilemma’ (a book by Clayton Christensen), which details when new technologies cause great firms to fail. Is this likely to happen with OTT vs linear TV? Well, the big TV firms will likely swoop to capture the OTT market when the time comes.

In a way, there’s too much choice out there so a definable and recognisable channel brand will always be useful: the brand guarantees entertainment. People aren’t algorithms; they’ll come back to what they want and what they know rather than an online streaming service making a seemingly random suggestion based on what they’ve watched previously.

So, let’s jump forward 5 years. What will the OTT/TV landscape look like? The panel broke down four possible scenarios:

1 – Planet of the aggregators
Kids’ viewing shifts to VOD and OTT. Pay TV and OTT providers aggregate best content and brands in apps and VOD offers. Linear channels decline and are ultimately dropped by pay TV platforms. Channel brands become irrelevant, broadcasters shift to production led models.

2 – End of the world as we know it
Commercial kids broadcasters decline. And premium kids’ OTT offers fail to gain traction. Low-cost aggregators, ad-funded online vid offers dominate. Investment in kids’ content deteriorates dramatically, resulting in ever greater reliance on public subsidy and big brands.

3 – The sun always shines on TV
International kids’ TV networks survive and adapt. Channel brands are reinvigorated and extend into OTT and SVOD. Global kids’ content franchises enjoy huge commercial growth. OTT aggregators persist but mainly as buyers, not originators.

4 – (Almost) everyone’s a winner
Kids’ broadcasters, OTT and pay TV happily co-exist. Competition and collaboration stimulate growing investment & innovation. A new golden age for children’s TV content dawns. But domestic UK broadcasters could struggle to compete: scale wins.

So which future awaits? A possible combination of some or all of the above. But not everyone can be a winner. One thing is for sure, there’s exciting and challenging times ahead!

For details of the speakers, check the Session Guide.

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Danny Stack

About the author

Danny Stack

Nelson Nutmeg Pictures, Screenwriter

Danny’s a prolific writer in the kids’ genre and has written for the new Thunderbirds Are Go! for CiTV. He has co-written/produced/directed the live-action family film Who Killed Nelson Nutmeg? alongside Tim Clague. Danny is known for his popular blog, Scriptwriting In The UK, which inspired him to set up the… Read more